Say goodbye to the days of “supersoft” tires and all of that junk in Formula One (officially, at least). Next year, Pirelli’s tire-naming system in F1 will be slightly less arbitrary but a whole lot more confusing—so confusing, in fact, there’s not even enough room in this first paragraph to explain why it’s confusing.
Here we go, everybody. Put your thinking caps on.
Formula One tire compounds, before this coming season, had names that didn’t have much meaning and couldn’t be made sense of without simply memorizing which were the softest: supersoft, ultrasoft, hypersoft, ubersoft, excessivelysoft, softerthanyourgutduringthewinter. Fine, those last three weren’t real.
Anyway, in an effort to simplify the tire names and make them more logical to someone who doesn’t memorize F1 tire compounds like multiplication tables, Pirelli said earlier this year that it would create two separate naming systems for its compounds. One of those naming systems would be for the compounds at the track, and the other for the compounds themselves.
Since F1 only designates three dry-weather compounds each race and there are five dry compounds next season, according to Motorsport.com, Pirelli posted that the hardest tire each race starting next year will be called “hard,” and the softest, “soft.” The one in the middle will be “medium.”
They’ll also get corresponding colors for “hard,” “medium” and “soft,” rather than sticking to their original lineup colors like they have in the past. Hard will be white, medium will be yellow and soft will be red. The compounds that get those names and colors can change each race weekend, depending on which compounds are in the lineup.
Outside of the race weekends, the five compounds will get a naming system that numbers them “C1” through “C5,” with C1 being the hardest compound and C5 being the softest. If Pirelli changes or adds to the lineup in the coming seasons and keeps this structure, they’ll be slotted into the “C” naming system rather than given random and confusing, but also kind of cool, names like “hypersoft.”
The new naming system came with Pirelli’s announcement of the compounds for the first four races next season in Australia, Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan, which are in the tweet embedded above. Having that makes the naming system slightly easier to put in to practice.
In Australia, the C2 tire will be the “hard” compound, C3 will be the “medium” compound, and C4 will be the “soft” compound. Looking at that information in the form of a graphic, like it is to the left, makes it less confusing.
So, in sum, Pirelli threw out a bad tire-naming system that required graphical representation or memorization to understand, in favor of a new naming system that also requires graphical representation or memorization to understand.
Sigh. At least these are just tires, right?